24 December 2006

Gaviota Peak loop trail

Gaviota State Park and Los Padres National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

Out past Gaviota beach, the wrong way on the exit to Lompoc (and right again), is the trail head for the hot springs and peak. The peak is about 3 miles by the springs and about 3.5 miles by trespass trail. Together, they make a loop. Trespass trail is on south and west facing slopes with more obstacles to following the trail. A second trail leaves to the right at the saddle to what may or may not be something interesting. Going straight goes past a dry lake and connects up with the trail up the mountain. Going left would connect up with the trail faster, but there is very little trail there. The route past the hot springs is more direct and road-like almost the entire way, which is mostly western and northern slopes.

We (mom and I) headed out a bit past noon on the trespass trail because it is winter and won't be too hot to hike a southern slope even this close to sea level. Also, it apparently has much better views. This turns out to be quite true, partly because there's less vegetation on the south side to hinder viewing and partly because there's ocean on that side.

So we paid the $2 parking fee and started up the trail. Taking the right fork at the sign puts us on the correct trail heading around to the south side of the peak. Soon there is a glimpse of ocean and a ribbon of 101 freeway. There has been enough moisture to get the bushes nicely green, but the smaller growth is decidedly brown.

glimps of ocean and ribbon of highway in rolling sandstone uplift mountains